Senator Robinhood “Robin” Padilla on Monday expressed his support for the legislation of the proposed measures prohibiting Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression Equality (SOGIE)-based discrimination.
During his opening statement at the public hearing of the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, Padilla said that it is no less the Philippine Constitution that made clear there is no room in the Philippines for gender-based discrimination against anyone.
“There is no mention of a particular gender in the Constitution, or that we are favoring a certain gender over another. The Preamble of our Constitution states that all Filipinos are equal, not only in the eyes of God, but also before the laws of man,” he said.
“It is clear… that there is no favoring of one gender over another. The Constitution is clear that all Filipinos are equal, not only in the eyes of God but also in the eyes of the law,” he added.
Padilla earlier proposed a measure seeking to institutionalize the civil union of same-sex couples, a move that did not sit well with his brothers in Islam.
‘No to SOGIE’
During the public hearing, several religious groups have expressed their opposition to the passage of Senate Bills No. 139 and 245 entitled, An Act Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) and Providing Penalties Therefor.
The former authored by yours truly, and the latter by Sen. Loren Legarda. SBN 442 or An Act Penalizing Discriminatory Actions Based on Gender Identity or Expression and Sexual Orientation introduced by Sen. Mark Villar.
Atty. Joel Arzaga, Vice President of the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines, Inc., stressed that their group acknowledges the legislative intent of the proposed measures to prohibit gender-based discrimination.
However, Arzaga said that the SOGIE bill’s pursuit of this, “it unwittingly infringes other Constitutional liberties, goes beyond the mere intent of curbing undue discrimination and violence and ventures into promotion of ideas or philosophies through definitions, proposed government programs and policies, information and education campaigns and even media portrayals.”
Arzaga also said that there are existing laws that already address undue discrimination and forms of violence, which are “operative, the rights they provide are accessible to all, and the remedies they offer are available for all.”
Meanwhile, Hazel Aquino, representative of the Simbahang Kristyanong Lumad, Inc. (SKLI) said that some provisions in the measure are “culturally insensitive and unrealistic.”
“Since time immemorial, we defined maritime status or relationship status as a union between men and women only. Marriages are sacred thus, we will hold on to this ancient tradition and teach this to our next generation,” Aquino said.
‘Gov’t agencies back to SOGIE’
In her speech, Senator Risa Hontiveros, chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, urged the public to support the passage of the bill which seeks to prohibit SOGIE-based discrimination.
“Six years ago, the Philippine Senate heard for the very first time a bill that explicitly protects our LGBTQIA+ countrymen from discrimination and imposes penalties on discriminatory practices affecting them. This came seventeen years after the very first anti-discrimination bill was filed in Congress but was never heard. And since then, harassment, discrimination, and violence continue to be part of their everyday life of LGBTQIA+ Filipinos,” Hontiveros said.
“My dear countrymen, we should not let it continue to happen. While many claim that the Philippines is a country welcoming of the LGBTQ+, news are rife of abuses and discrimination against them. And these are just cases that land in the news, a tiny fraction of incidents that catch media’s attention,” she added.
Hontiveros stressed that gender-based discrimination is still prevalent nowadays, insisting that many cases “remain unaccounted for, and in many instances remain hidden and unspoken.”
The Department of Health and Commission on Human Rights expressed its support for the passage of SOGIE bill, which aims to address harassment, discrimination, and violence in the everyday life of LGBTQIA+ Filipinos.
“We have stood with SOGIE equality champions and allies in stressing its urgency even as we continue to document cases of discrimination prior, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic. This Congress, we will continue to support the passage of this legislation,” said Atty. Twyla Rubin, Officer-in-Charge of CHR’s Center for Gender Equality & Women’s Human Rights.
“The Department of Health fully supports the Senate Bills No. 139, 245, and 442 which seek to protect the fundamental rights of all individuals against any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics,” Health Undersecretary Dr. Beverly Ho said.
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